Why Hiking is the Perfect Form of Exercise

Hiking for cardio exercise

Good news!

Not only is hiking one of the most fun activities you can do on your days off - it’s also insanely good for your health!

Physically speaking…

Hiking is a world class cardio workout.

And, like any cardio workout, hiking protects the body from numerous life threatening illnesses.

Heart Disease: According to the CDC, heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S.

Heart disease claims an American life every 36 seconds - or over 650,000 American lives per year.

Heart disease is no joke - make the choices to live a healthy lifestyle (while having fun too!) to lower your risk.

Blood pressure: High blood pressure is running rampant in the U.S., with nearly one in three Americans having a hypertension diagnosis, or in layman's terms, high blood pressure.

Hypertension can also lead to a heart attack, stroke, and other health complications - all while going undetected.

Regular physical activity, such as hiking, can lower your blood pressure by 10 points or more.

Bone Density: As people age or become increasingly sedentary, our body’s rate of calcium loss tends to accelerate, resulting in one's bones becoming increasingly susceptible to breaking.

Because hiking is a weight bearing exercise, it can help reverse this trend by strengthening your bones and boosting bone density when done regularly.

Strengthen your legs, core, and balance: Because of the uneven terrain, occasional (or frequent) uphill and downhill angles, and the few extra pounds you may be carrying in a day pack - hiking activates more muscles throughout your body than your typical walk.

Strong legs, core, and balance translate to so many other things - regular life will become easier.

And if you’re a calorie counter like me - check this out:

Hiking burns about 200 calories per mile (on the low end!).

Which is about 2x more than walking and 1.5x more than running the same distance.

Hit the hills to turn calorie burning into calorie scorching.

According to President of the American Hiking Society, Gregory A. Miller (PhD), noted that a 5% - 10% incline can burn an additional 30% - 40% calories.

Not only that, but you burn an additional 1% per extra pound of weight that you carry (i.e. if you carry a 15-pound day pack, you’ll burn an additional ~15% calories!)

Did someone say mental health too?

Mental health boost exercise hiking

Yes, oh yes indeed.

Research has shown that hiking can help combat the effects of anxiety, stress, and boost your mood.

Miller reminds us, "Being in nature is ingrained in our DNA, and we sometimes forget that."

Maybe it's the beautiful views, maybe it’s the time spent with friends, or maybe it’s the satisfaction of pushing your body on a challenging hike.

Or maybe, even after all of that, there really is something deeper at play, deep in our bones and DNA, that makes hiking the perfect type of exercise.

Thanks, and happy hiking!

Erian Gutierrez

Follow me on instagram here.


If you're gearing up for your next adventure or prepping for potential disasters, take a peek at our catalog and see if there is anything you need to complete your kit or stow away for the future. 



Heart Disease Facts by CDC.gov

Hiking for Health by TrailKeeper.org

Doctors Tell Us How Hiking Can Change Our Brains by Marilyn Rogers

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